Published On: March 22, 2024Categories: Event Planning, Event Sustainability

What are Greenhouse Gases and the Greenhouse Effect?

As event professionals, the buzz around planning more sustainable events is on the rise. But before we dive into how we can do out part in combatting climate change, let’s back track and learn what is happening in the first place. Why do carbon emissions and your event’s carbon footprint matter?

Merriam Webster defines greenhouse gases as: any of various gaseous compounds (such as carbon dioxide or methane) that absorb infrared radiation, trap heat in the atmosphere, and contribute to the greenhouse effect.

Although carbon dioxide and methane naturally live in our atmosphere, humans have exacerbated the amount of carbon and methane being released in the last 100 years. But if it’s naturally occurring and lives in our atmosphere, why does the rising amounts matter?

First let’s go through the greenhouse effect. Solar radiation from the sun enters the atmosphere and most of it is absorbed by earth’s surface to warm it, while some radiation is reflected back into space. Greenhouse cases such as carbon and methane trap some of this radiant heat and reflect it back down to the earth to keep a comfortable temperature and the planet habitable. See the diagram below for reference.

Wikimedia Commons. (August 6, 2015). Earth’s Greenhouse Effect [Online]. Available:’s_greenhouse_effect_(US_EPA,_2012).png

The issue in the last century with the industrial revolution and burning fossil fuels is the significant increase in greenhouse gases. This is causing more of the solar radiation to be re-directed back down to the earth’s surface, causing the earth’s temperature to rise. The concerns associated with this is the melting polar ice caps, rising sea levels, increase in the both the frequency and intensity of natural disasters such as hurricanes and tornados. And even further consequences for our agriculture and production, biodiversity, water and air quality and even human health. Essentially threatening of all living organisms on the planet.

Now that we understand why carbon emissions and our event carbon footprints matter. We must do our part by planning more eco-friendly events. Not sure how? Begin with selecting the best venue and location for your event. Download a copy of our Venue Evaluation Checklist here to get started.

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